MARGATE – Voters here today narrowly approved a non-binding referendum that asked if they would be willing to spend as much as $200,000 to take the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to court to stop the pending dunes project.
According to Deputy Clerk Rosie Freed, the unofficial vote in today’s election was 1,067 yes, 988 no.
“It is certainly not the same overwhelming vote as last year,” Becker said. “But, the people spoke and we, at least I will carry out their wishes.”
Becker said the Margate would meet with the Army Corps and NJDEP on Wednesday, Nov. 12 to discuss technical issues, such as drainage and ponding, Becker said. A second meeting requested by NJDEP Commissioner Bob Martin has yet to be arranged, the mayor said.
“That’s what we wanted all along,” Becker said, “a seat at the table.”
Daniel Gottlieb of Margate Citizens Questioning the Beach Project, said he is gratified by the result of the referendum.
“It reaffirms what was made clear last year by Margate residents – that they are adamantly opposed to this costly and ineffective beach project,” Gottlieb said.
He said he is hoping the city’s elected officials will come up with a “better and more cost effective solution” instead of building dunes – and one that reinforces the city’s bulkhead system.
“We also remain hopeful that some of the resources originally allocated to the construction of dunes may be reallocated to help address Margate’s real problem through the years from storms, namely back bay flooding,” Gottlieb said.
Today’s vote reinforces a prior non-binding referendum held last November, which asked voters if they would support the state’s plan to build sand dunes along the entire New Jersey coastline. Sixty-five percent of the people who voted in that election said no to the dunes in Margate.
MCQBP advocated to stop the dunes project stating that the Army Corps’ “one size fits all” concept is not the best approach to protecting property in Margate, especially since the city is protected by a citywide bulkhead system. They said most of the flooding experienced during hurricane Sandy came from the bay side, which is not protected by bulkheads.
Today’s referendum was put on the ballot following several public meetings which brought out both supporters and detractors of the Absecon Island Coastal Storm Risk Reduction Project, which calls for sand dunes to be built from Brigantine to the Great Egg Harbor Inlet.